Thinking differently/ Paradigm Shifts

Inspiration Shot May 2020

At the end of February I left the Netherlands for a few weeks to run a writing retreat and some workshops in Curaçao. I traveled with just my small carry-on luggage. Who would have thought that I would only be able to return to the Netherlands three months later, after spending almost two months in Miami? Traveling in this time and age is an adventure. Hereby a report.

Goodbye Dad!

My dad was left in good company. He has a great new (American) care taker, but he is also very happy with his new robot dog Waldo. Robot dog? Yes, I had no idea they existed, but the Alzheimer’s Association let us know that they are given away for free to older people in the USA. The dog responds to sound and Dad clicked with Waldo immediately, as you can see in the video. There is also a cat version. Could this be a good solution for lonely elderly people in your area?

Travel in times of Corona

It is hard to imagine: empty airports, empty flight screens, very few people on the plane, everyone is obliged to wear masks. To my surprise, I was not asked a single question about why I flew. Not when (re)booking my ticket, not at check-in, not at security. The health declaration form that I had to fill out on boarding was not even viewed or taken.

And what a drama for the airlines! They fly at only 10% capacity; each flight must be arranged separately: where it can land, what rules apply, can the crew stay overnight? And with all that extra work, every flight is also making a loss. ​​

Compliments to the pilots and flight attendants who continue to work in these extreme conditions. Anyway, I’m back in Amsterdam again. Who knows for how long? Hereby a video impression.

Care taker dilemma and solution

When we first found out that my father with Alzheimer’s needed a care taker, we went looking in Miami, where he lives. We found out that professional nurses and care takers are expensive and they are not super motivated. We hired someone for a few weeks, but she kept falling asleep on the couch during her shift – time when she was meant to cook and look after my dad!
At one point I had an epiphany and offered care takers from the Netherlands a 3 month ‘care vacation’ in Miami. That has been going well for 2.5 years. We have always found fantastic people who enjoy their stay in Miami. A true win-win-win situation.

But now… Corona… No more flights from Europe to the USA. The last caretaker had to leave and although the caretaker that we had lined up even had a flight booked, she could not come to Miami.

What could we do? I immediately flew in from Curaçao to take care of my dad. But how long would I have to wait until someone could come from the Netherlands, and who would still want to in this lock down situation?
Waiting for everything to go back to normal is often the first step in a change. But just waiting means that you relinquish control and you feel like a victim.
A few weeks in I felt that we wouldn’t be able to go back to our old way of doing this any time soon. I had to find a new solution. I started my search in  the USA, but people there have big problems at the moment. I felt helpless and even a little depressed.

Suddenly my two worlds came together: what if I could find an American Digital Nomad who was ‘stranded’ in the US? I posted in the ‘Digital Nomad Girls’ group on Facebook… and it worked! The same day I found Tee, who was staying in Hawaii at the time and who got on a plane within a week. She even offered to quarantine for two weeks just to be safe. Now that her isolation is over, she has taken over the care of my father. A big comfort and relief.

What do you do when you have a problem? Do you keep trying something that doesn’t work? Are you going to wait and become dependent on someone else? Or do you ‘turn it around’ and look for other solutions?

Do you want more inspiration about this mind shift? Then join my ‘How to turn anything into a business’ workshop at the end of this month.

New ‘Mix & Match’ course model

In the first weeks of the corona crisis, I completely changed my business model. Instead of workshops and writing weeks, I now give two online workshops every week. To my surprise, this is a huge improvement for both me and my participants. A great example is the Storytelling workshop that I normally only gave to writers, but it turns out that it is also a great skill for speakers and managers.

Outsourcing your book cover design to freelancers‘ turned out to be the starting point for a great discussion about outsourcing and working with a VA, which in turn resulted in a new workshop. Information that I normally give during a longer workshop especially for writers or digital nomads, is thus more easily accessible and divided into ‘bite-sized chunks’ that are also of interest to others.

I am now developing a modular system where you can ‘mix and match’ the topics that appeal to you. More on that later. If you like this concept, you can check out the current workshop plans.

 

Did you know...?

…that I have been traveling with just a carry-on bag for years? How can you bring enough clothes, sports outfits, books, a complete ‘office’ and even tango shoes and a snorkel? The secret is a good carry-on bag and to roll your clothes. I demonstrate my process in the video below and wrote a blog about what I bring and how.

Where is Esther?

Wow, I’m back in Amsterdam! Of course I am very grateful that I was able to spend so much quality time with my father, but I am also very happy to be able to lead ‘my own life’ again. I will stay at home for the first few weeks, keep my distance and be very careful. But being able to walk, cycle and swim in the canals again soon, that feels like a lot of freedom.

After three months of living out of my carry-on suitcase (see ‘Did you know …?’), I’m really looking forward to expanding my wardrobe slightly, among other things! 🙂

I broke a record too. In the past 15 years, I have never been in one place for more than 6 weeks, but I have just been in Miami for 7 weeks. And now that all events and trips have been canceled in the near future, who knows how long I will stay in Amsterdam?

I often think of the olive grove I bought in Puglia, Italy in February. The idea was that I could finalize the sale with the notary in April. When that can now happen is a mystery, but I still want it and fortunately I have good connections with the people in Italy.

On another note, my birthday is coming up soon. On the 28th of June I’m turning 50. I had planned a party for all my friends, but because that can’t go ahead, I’m going to do something EVEN MORE FUN… I’m going to give away 50 awesome gifts. Just like that! You’ll hear more about this in three weeks.

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